• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 9:11am
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

Occupy ask Carrie Lam why views of 62,000 are irrelevant to electoral reform

Occupy co-founder asks chief secretary to clarify why views expressed by 62,000 voters in 'referendum' are irrelevant to reform process

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 January, 2014, 2:57am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 January, 2014, 2:57am

One of the founders of the Occupy Central movement has urged Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to clarify her dismissal of the results of its New Year's Day "referendum" on electoral reform - warning its blockade of roads in Central would be more likely to go ahead if the government refused to listen to public opinion.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, hit back at Lam a day after she said the outcome of Wednesday's poll was irrelevant to the reform process.

Lam later said the government keeps an "open and inclusive attitude" to public opinion. "But we must also be pragmatic ... I am responsible for issuing a reminder when some opinion … could be lacking foundation in the Basic Law or the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. That doesn't mean that we do not value public opinion," she said.

In the mock referendum organised by Occupy, some 62,000 citizens cast their votes, with 94 per cent of them saying the public should be allowed to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election.

"Under Hong Kong law, we do not have legally binding referendums," Tai said after meeting pan-democratic legislators to update them on the movement's plans. "But [one] must consider that the voting results have indicated how at least 60,000 people see the chief executive election.

"[Lam] said: Let's talk and achieve universal suffrage. Is she now saying that the opinions expressed have no value? I hope she will clarify whether the government will just selectively listen to some views," the academic said.

Frederick Fung Kin-kee, who convened yesterday's meeting of pan-democratic legislators, shared Tai's view. "These were the views of 60,000 people. How can she still say the results have no reference value?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen was sceptical of a call by the student-led activist group Scholarism for five pan-democratic legislators to quit in order to trigger a de facto referendum on political reform. The camp tried a similar action in 2010, and the new plan has generated a tepid response from pan-democrats.

"More than a week ago, I saw a sign at a glassware shop, which read 'handle with care' because the products were fragile," Tam said. "Reaching consensus on constitutional reform is difficult to achieve. It is like fragile glassware, which can be broken by any reckless act. Therefore we have to handle it with care."

Only two of the pan-democratic parties contacted by the Post - People Power and the League of Social Democrats - have backed the student group's plan. Major pan-democratic parties have expressed reservations.

Tai said Occupy would not rule out supporting a resignation plan if it was deemed necessary.

But the movement was focusing on organising a poll in June which will allow the public to choose among different electoral reform proposals, he said.



Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Referendum doesn't take samples. It directly gauges the opinions of as much citizens as possible. Benny Tai should know that a result of a 1% turnout is meaningless.
So what had been done is just a "polling", and the accuracy of a polling requires random sampling. This time is the sampling random? I see this as an antic taking sample within interest groups amounting to 1% population to represent 99% population that didn't know what was going on. Hong Kong citizens should be vigilant to anything politicians say, and politicians should be honest to admit something not in their favour. Politicians criticize other kettles, but wouldn't mention they are pots.
Lam's comment is a disgraceful betrayal of the government's true position which is to conduct a phony consultation process and produce the result ordered by Beijing. Direct nomination may be a flawed idea in breach of the Basic Law but that doesn't make it irrelevant to the consultation process. While it has no chance of being the final outcome, it must be taken into account. The view tells us that a significant part of the politically active section of our community wants a highly democratic system. Failure to deliver it will cause great instability in Hong Kong.
I can't even imagine that this Benny Tai guy is an associate professor of law...........if he really is, he should be well aware that anyone with some basic statistics education should know that 60,000 out of a population of 7 million (less than 1%) is hardly enough to represent the whole population. Just because 90% of the 60,000 people had the same views, it definitely does not indicate the rest of the population in HK feels the same.....The 60,000 sample is too little to indicate the opinion of the whole population.
This Benny guy is just another politician wannabe trying to steal his few moments of fame while he can.........any person who thinks that this 60,000 sampling of voters opinion is indicative of the whole of HK is not qualified to teach at the university level..........maybe put him back to teach elementary school.
Dai Muff
What even YOU cannot deny is that these are the views of 62000 Hong Kong people, and are deserving of consideration simply for that. Not as a percentage of anything.
Because they did not agree with what the Masters in Beijing told her boss will be the way things will be done. She is just being a good servant of the Masters in Beijing who view all of us as their serfs. Why are you surprised? Were these 62,000 princelings and princesslings? No, just regular serfs. How can serfs tell the Masters how to rule. Utterly foolish to think a good slave like Carrie would deviate from the Masters' direction. We are a communist society where only the masters rule and we servants toil to make sure princelings have enough money for Black Audis, expensive dinners, expensive wine, expensive flats, cash for their mistresses and cash to send their children to the best schools in Europe and the US. Now get to work and stop thinking.
The views of the 62,000 who took part in the 'referendum' are relevant. But, it also needs to be put into perspective that 62,000 is less than 1% of Hong Kong's population.
Whilst only 62000 voted and that is less than 1% of the population, that does not necessarily mean the result is not a meaningful sample of the views of people in HK. That is by definition what a sample is. There is no basis in fact or logic to suggest that the other 99% of the population have the opposite view to the majority who voted.
I didn't participate in the vote but would have voted in line with the majority in that sample.
But the propaganda of the voting circulated mainly in their own groups of supporters and so the voters were mostly their supporters. I guess the majority of the the population are not aware of such "referendum", which I see more likely a small-circle voting within some interest groups. Still, they will use this 1% result to say they represent the 100% whole population and the whole town should go under their command . (I support screening to bar out politicians who tout voters with social benefits funded by taxpayers. The city is roaring at some of them in the recent saga.)
Occupy Central may not represent mainstream views on everything, but 94% saying the public should be allowed to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election is very persuasive evidence that the general public strongly wants a say in how their city is governed, and that they don't like the stink of corruption which has come to permeate the corridors of power at the highest level.
Agree. This 1% figure is ridiculous as it's meaningless as there are not 6 million registered voters in HK!
The reality is that 62,000 people took time out on 1January to express their view. The Government should not simply dismiss this and play a numbers game!
Yes but it is a bit more statistically significant when you look at the quantity of people who live here and are entitled to vote here. It is also not a bad sample for a survey. My guess is the surveys that speak of how much Mainlanders love the Communist Party are probably not more statistically significant.
The 2010 by-election referendum had over 500,000 Hongkongers vote - exceeding the participation of those on 1 July 2003 and as such was a significant example of Hong Kong political participation. Yet, the government media campaign so successfully minimized it - and the mainstream pan-democrats allowed themselves to be so intimidated by the propaganda war - that they failed to recognized what had occurred. The effects of the 2010 by-election referendum continues to be felt today even as the government continues to maneuver to preclude it from ever being used again. The government even went as far as to take the unprecedented step to stop debate in the Legco on the pan-democrat amendments to keep the government from prohibiting legislators from resigning and running for their seats as an act of political speech and resistance. Regardless of how one views those actions, or even Occupy, the truth of the matter is if the government ignores those voices it will NEVER have peace. Universal Suffrage will be an empty slogan and protests will expand as the legislature will be seen as a road to nowhere even by so-called moderates. When the legislature and political system fails the streets will be filled.
Apparently the voting exercise which they called "referendum" is designed to mislead and to deceive the people of HK....it is a shame that a university professor and the statistical personnel of 2 HK universities are involved !
60,000 sample size is not small
If people don't register their opinions, then their opinions won't be registered
Yes, but given more time and resources to gather signatures, it's obvious that the majority of HKers would support direct nominations. This is what is called a 'no-brainer'. But...of course it won't happen here in HK (China), and Carrie Lam is just diffusing any hope that it might happen.
Or rather to show people that the lies we are being told about how HK cannot handle the overall voting process and practice are exactly that-lies. People in HK are capable to choose their Chief Executive and do not need the masters in Beijing to tell us how to vote. Now Carrie and team don't like that since the Masters tell them what to do and the Masters want to rein in this silly idea that HK people can choose their government. Governing is for princelings, not for regular people. Only princelings can rule because they have the proper DNA. The deception is from those who want us to believe that we should not seek to exercise the rights that were promised and many of them are here in HK seeking to maintain their preferred status through currying favor with the Masters. Was that too close to the bone?
Especially if those people vote the way the masters in Beijing don't want them to vote. Actually, daily, you seem not to have a real grasp of how sampling of this sort is done. Look on the internet as there is all kinds of information on sampling and statistics. The Masters may not like it, but the sample, was not too small. All one needs to do is look at the polling in real democracies to see how you can get an idea of what the voters are thinking. I know in China it is easier. People think what the Masters tell them to think. Good luck learning something and not just parroting what the masters in Beijing tell you to think.
If Carrie believes the whole referendum is irrelevant maybe Benny could wrap the whole pack of stats into a submission in response to the consultation paper. That way, it is a view by 62000 people and she cannot ignore it.
Since each vote is not monitored nor matched by a corresponding HKID, then this is not an accurate representative vote as it is possible for one individual to put in a 1000 vote or more.


SCMP.com Account